Second-ranked Notre Dame wrapped up a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game by virtue of the league shuffling its schedule Tuesday to create an open date for the Fighting Irish and No. 4 Clemson before their likely rematch Dec. 19. The ACC announced Notre Dame’s game against Wake Forest, which was rescheduled for Dec. 12 after being postponed in late September, will not be played. The first-place Irish (9-0, 8-0 ACC) host Syracuse on Saturday to complete their regular season. Clemson’s postponed game at Florida State will also not be made up. The Tigers (8-1, 7-1) can clinch a spot in the championship game with a victory Saturday at Virginia. Notre Dame beat Clemson at South Bend, Ind., last month in double overtime and both are well positioned to make the College Football Playoff if they enter the ACC title game without another blemish on their records. Normally an independent in football, Notre Dame joined the ACC this season after the pandemic forced major college football conferences to drastically alter their schedules. No. 9 Miami (7-1, 6-1) could still earn a spot in the ACC championship game if Clemson were to lose. The Hurricanes play at Duke on Saturday and are scheduled to play at North Carolina on Dec. 12. If Miami does not reach the ACC championship game, it will play Georgia Tech at home on Dec. 19. Florida State, which has had three straight games postponed because of COVID-19 issues, is now scheduled to host Duke on Dec. 12 and play at Wake Forest on Dec. 1.
Top seven teams unchanged in rankings
Ohio State held on to the fourth spot in the College Football Playoff rankings after having its previous game canceled, landing behind No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Clemson for a second straight week. The top seven teams were unchanged from last week’s rankings after the playoff contenders either won comfortably or didn’t play because of COVID-19 issues. Texas A&M was in fifth and Florida sixth. Ohio State had to cancel its game at Illinois last week because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in the program. It was the second game of the season the Buckeyes have lost. One more would leave them ineligible for the Big Ten championship game and unable to play more than six regular-season games. The College Football Playoff has set no minimum number of games played to be eligible for the playoff . . . Tennessee dismissed outside linebacker Kivon Bennett from the football team, hours after he was arrested during a traffic stop. “There is a standard our student-athletes are expected to uphold at Tennessee, and today’s incident fell well short of that standard,” coach Jeremy Pruitt said in a statement. Bennett is the son of Cornelius Bennett, who was the No. 2 pick of the 1987 NFL Draft and a five-time Pro Bowler. Bennett was stopped Tuesday around 11:21 a.m. by campus police, who clocked him driving 59 miles per hour in a 45-m.p.h. zone. The police report said an officer asked Bennett if he had marijuana in the vehicle and that Bennett said he did. Police reported finding more than 44 grams of marijuana, a scale, 58 plastic baggies, and a loaded 9mm handgun, according to the police report . . . Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd has opted out of the rest of this season to focus on preparing for the NFL Draft, as did Kentucky starting safety and Southeastern Conference interceptions leader Kelvin Joseph . . . Iowa State will allow about 15,000 fans at Jack Trice Stadium for the Cyclones’ football game against West Virginia on Saturday. Athletic director Jamie Pollard also announced about 1,400 fans will be allowed at Hilton Coliseum on Sunday for a women’s basketball game against No. 1 South Carolina and a men’s game against DePaul.
Rocket Watts helps Michigan State scorch Duke
Rocket Watts scored 20 points and Julius Marble had a career-high 12 to help No. 8 Michigan State beat No. 6 Duke, 75-69, in the Champions Classic in Durham, N.C. The Spartans (3-0) closed the first half with a 13-4 surge to take a 37-33 lead at halftime. They maintained control in the second half with a balanced offense to go with their aggressive defense and rebounding. The Blue Devils (1-1) led 13-3 before struggling to make shots or get stops. Aaron Henry had 14 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks for the Spartans. “We rode him like a horse,” coach Tom Izzo. Joey Hauser had 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Malik Hall added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Michigan State. Matthew Hurt had 21 points and 13 rebounds for Duke . . . Nate Watson scored 22 points and Providence held on to defeat Davidson, 63-62, in the consolation bracket of the Maui Invitational in Asheville, N.C. The Friars led all the way, building a 19-point lead in the middle of the first half but they couldn’t put the Wildcats away. Jared Bynum added 14 points and David Duke 13 for Providence (2-1), which plays the winner of UNLV and Alabama for fifth place in the tournament that was moved to North Carolina because of coronavirus concerns. The Friars were just 2 of 16 from 3-point range. Hyunjung Lee and Kellan Grady scored 17 points apiece for the Wildcats (1-2) with Grady grabbing seven rebounds . . . Elon says its men’s basketball team has paused activities due to a positive COVID-19 test within its program. The quarantine period is at least 14 days, which means games against Mercer, No. 6 Duke, Howard. and No. 14 North Carolina have been postponed . . . The University of Colorado ordered its men’s basketball program to pause activities for COVID-19 reasons and the Pac-12 has postponed the Buffaloes’ conference opener at Arizona that was set for Wednesday . . . No. 19 Richmond’s men’s basketball is pausing all activities and its game at College of Charleston on Wednesday night has been called off due to COVID-19 concerns within the Spiders’ program . . . Vanderbilt women’s basketball has canceled its home game Wednesday night against Texas Tech because of COVID-19 issues within the Commodores’ program. The women’s basketball team has had its first three games of the season canceled . . . West Virginia said no fans will be allowed at its men’s and women’s basketball games in December, except for essential personnel and the families of players and staff, due to recent spikes of COVID-19 cases in the state. The university initially had capped fan attendance at 20 percent of capacity at 14,000-seat WVU Coliseum, or around 2,800 . . . Sophomore forward Joel Ntambwe left Texas Tech’s men’s program after the former UNLV transfer played only in only three games for the 17th-ranked Red Raiders. Coach Chris Beard said Ntambwe told him the decision to leave the program was based on personal reasons and what is best for his family. The 6-foot-8-inch forward averaged 11.8 points per game as a freshman for the Runnin’ Rebels during the 2018-19 season.
In a surprise, Vanney leaves Toronto
Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney said he is stepping down after six years, five playoff appearances, three MLS Cup appearances, and one league title. Vanney, 46, was in the final year of his contract. In October, he said he was “very close” to agreeing to an extension. Speculation immediately turned to Vanney taking over the Los Angeles Galaxy, for which he had two stints during a 14-year playing career. The Galaxy is seeking a replacement for Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who was fired late in his second season amid the team’s fourth consecutive subpar campaign . . . Newcastle’s Premier League game at Aston Villa on Friday has been postponed due to an outbreak of coronavirus cases at the northeast English club. It is the first time this season that a match in England’s top division has been called off due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Newcastle said there had been a “significant increase” in cases at its training facility.
Indians’ Hill undergoes wrist surgery
Indians rookie reliever Cam Hill underwent surgery on his right wrist after being involved in a car accident in Tulsa, Okla. Hill shared details of the incident on his Instagram account, saying he was “very blessed to only bang up my wrist. Surgery went really well, most importantly the others involved in the accident were all okay.” The team said surgery went “as expected” and that it does not have any details yet on Hill’s rehab or when he might be able to pitch. Hill made his major league debut with the Indians on July 26 and got his first save two days later against the Chicago White Sox. The 26-year-old went 2-0 with a 4.91 ERA in 18 games with Cleveland . . . Joe Ross and the Washington Nationals agreed to a $1.5 million salary for 2021, ensuring that the 27-year-old righthander will stay with the club and avoid an arbitration hearing. The sides aligned, according a person with knowledge of the deal, a day ahead of the deadline for teams to tender contracts for arbitration-eligible players . . . The New York Mets reached their first agreement with a free agent since Steven Cohen bought the team, a deal with 31-year-old righthander Trevor May, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press. May had a 3.86 ERA in 24 relief appearances for the Minnesota Twins last season, striking out 38 and walking seven in 23⅓ innings while allowing 20 hits . . . Utilityman Chad Pinder reached a $2,275,000, one-year contract with the Oakland Athletics a day before Wednesday’s deadline for teams to offer deals to unsigned players on their rosters. In addition, righthander Burch Smith agreed to a $705,000, one-year deal . . . Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa, 76, is scheduled to change his plea to misdemeanor charges stemming from his drunken driving arrest nine months ago on a freeway in Phoenix. The Hall of Fame manager, who had previously pleaded not guilty to the two drunken driving charges, is scheduled to change his plea on Dec. 21 in Maricopa County Justice Court. Authorities say La Russa blew out a tire on the grey Lexus he was driving in a collision with a curb that left the vehicle smoking. Tests taken the night of his arrest showed his blood alcohol concentration was .095 — above the legal limit of .08. The arrest occurred on Feb. 24, but the charges were filed on Oct. 28 — one day before his hiring by Chicago . . . Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda, 93, has been moved out of intensive care, although he remains hospitalized in Southern California. Lasorda has been hospitalized since Nov. 8, although the team didn’t make it public until a week later. Lasorda attended the team’s Game 6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Oct. 27 in Texas that clinched the Dodgers’ first World Series title since 1988 . . . Major League Baseball players are giving $500,000 to support minor leaguers whose season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Major League Baseball Players Association said that money will be donated through the Major League Baseball Players Trust to More Than Baseball, a not-for-profit that benefits minor leaguers.
Hamilton tests for COVID-19
Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix. Hamilton was tested three times last week and returned a negative result each time, the last Sunday afternoon at the Bahrain International Circuit. But Hamilton woke up Monday morning with mild symptoms and was then informed that a contact prior to arrival in Bahrain had subsequently tested positive, his Mercedes team said Tuesday. This led to a subsequent test returning a positive result, and Hamilton says he has gone into self-isolation for 10 days. Hamilton is the third F1 driver to test positive for COVID-19 this season, following Sergio Perez at Silverstone and Lance Stroll in Germany . . . Russian driver Nikita Mazepin will drive for Formula One team Haas after signing a multi-year deal. The 21-year-old Mazepin currently drives in the F2 championship and is in third place overall, having won two races. He previously tested with the Force India team. Mazepin, who is the son of billionaire Dmitry Mazepin, will be the fourth Russian to race in F1 after Vitaly Petrov, Sergey Sirotkin, and Daniil Kvyat. The American-owned Haas team is replacing veteran French driver Romain Grosjean and Dane Kevin Magnussen . . . Mikaela Shiffrin will skip World Cup races in Switzerland this weekend after missing training time in speed events during the coronavirus pandemic, the United States ski team said. The three-time overall World Cup champion opted out of two super-G races scheduled for St. Moritz, where she won two years ago. Shiffrin is now preparing for two giant slaloms on Dec. 12-13 in Courchevel, France . . . Spanish tennis player Enrique López was banned for eight years for fixing matches at tournaments in 2017. The Tennis Integrity Unit said López cannot play in or attend any officially recognized tournament while banned. He was fined $25,000. The TIU said three charges of match fixing were proven and two charges were not proven. The tournaments López tried to corrupt were not identified. The 29-year-old Lopez reached a career high singles ranking of No. 154 in 2018, though never qualified for the main draw at a Grand Slam event. His best doubles ranking was No. 135 . . . The Los Angeles Lakers re-signed veteran Jared Dudley to a one-year contract. The 35-year-old Boston College product was a minor bench contributor during the Lakers’ championship season, averaging 1.5 points and 1.2 rebounds in 45 regular-season games and appearing sparingly in the playoffs. He is heading into his 14th NBA season and has played for seven teams . . . Andrew Dumaresque scored 1:49 into OT as Holy Cross’s hockey team won in Waltham in what was the first game by any Bentley athletics team since March . . . Organizers of the sport of parkour urged the IOC to reject adding the obstacle course-style street-running event to the 2024 Paris Olympics because of a dispute with the governing body of gymnastics. The Parkour Earth group has for years opposed what it calls a “hostile takeover” of the sport by the International Gymnastics Federation, known as FIG. “Unfortunately, FIG’s encroachment and misappropriation of our sport continues,” Parkour Earth wrote in an open letter to the International Olympic Committee. The IOC executive board will meet on Monday and on the agenda is finalizing the sports program for the Paris Games. Requests to add medal events or modify existing ones are expected from governing bodies. FIG, which will have 18 medal events at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, is expected to ask again for parkour’s inclusion. Paris is where parkour was developed in the 1990s.